How to Win New Business with Real Estate Case Studies
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
At the heart of your real estate transactions are stories: ones about clients from different walks of life with varying housing needs and preferences and with different experiences working with you, their agent. It’s vital to not only secure real estate testimonials from each one who praises your work, but also to write about each of their distinct home buying and selling journeys in the form of real estate case studies you can use on your website and in your marketing. These stories offer you a way to resonate with leads and nurture them to the point they contact you. Keep reading below to learn the ins and outs of sincere, passionate real estate case studies that can earn you new business.
Context is key, so get plenty of background info on your clients as possible.
Great novelists and screenwriters know that without context for the characters and worlds they create, their stories wouldn’t resonate with a single person. The same goes for your real estate case studies. Telling a story requires sharing a considerable amount of information about your clients. Primarily, you will need to provide details that paint a picture of your home buyer and seller clients and explain the reasoning and motivations behind their housing decisions. For instance, if you want to highlight a recent seller client in a case study, take note of what their situation entailed. Start with why they wanted to offload their property: Did they need to upgrade due to a growing family, or are they Baby Boomers looking to downgrade for retirement? Was this the first time they put their home on the market, or are they veterans in home selling? Relay the impetus behind their decision to move from their home so leads will be able to relate to and understand your client. Here’s another way to put it: Share who your clients are to a very specific degree — where they are from, what they do for a living, how many kids and pets they have, what their interests are, etc. — and you will build a stronger picture for readers of your real estate case studies, make them want to learn all about the experiences your clients had with you, and bolster your chances of them becoming viable leads.
Identify your clients’ standout characteristics.
In order to paint a crystal clear picture in your case studies, you’ll need to start collecting client characteristics. Since buyers and sellers are less likely to keep in constant touch with their agent after closing, the best time to take notes and secure these intimate details is during the transaction process. From the moment you begin to work with a home buyer or seller, keep track of any information you deem pertinent about them and their interaction with you. This will vary from client to client: Was a particular client a first-time home buyer who was thankful to have your knowledge and expertise at their disposal? Was another client a military veteran with a limited budget who was able to still find the home of their dreams thanks to you? Here are tips for collecting client information for your case study:
- Develop a system for jotting things down like your client’s personality traits, interests, hobbies, and any other intriguing information you think could help you craft a story around them. This will help you humanize them at the start of your case studies and, in turn, hook readers.
- Keep track of the ways in which you help out these clients. For instance, if they changed the type of home they desired during the buying process (e.g. wanting a three-bedroom home instead of a two-bedroom residence), take note of the work you did to help find listings that represented their updated needs.
- Explain the problems you helped solve throughout the transaction. If seller clients agonized over whether to accept a bid on their listing, for example, explain how you helped persuade them in one direction or another. Whatever the problem is that you describe, ensure you detail how your efforts helped for the better.
- Get at least a couple in-depth quotes from clients (with permission) to use in your case studies. Be upfront with them and explain that you would eventually like to tell their story through your real estate content marketing and that a quote explaining your valued assistance during their transaction would be beneficial.
It may take you some time to develop a concrete system for acquiring the information necessary to write compelling case studies, but over time, you’ll learn what kinds of info works best for them and how to best obtain them from your clients.
Produce multiple case study drafts, each with a different tone and style.
Ask any professional writer how many different drafts they produce for any given piece they work on and they will all tell you “multiple.” Some writers prefer to craft a handful of versions of their stories, while others take a more painstaking approach and produce dozens of drafts. Regardless of your preference, just know that it should take you more than one crack to get your case studies to click with your audience.
Your first draft should focus on the bare-bones facts about your clients. Explain your first contact with them (e.g. email exchange, phone call, in-person meeting), how you convinced them to sign on with you (e.g. persuasive listing presentation, well-explained sales history), any hiccups during the buying or selling process (e.g. buyer changes mind on home offer, multiple sellers deny home bids), and, ultimately, how you helped finalize the deals for your clients (e.g. working quickly to get a better bid in against competing buyers).
Once you’ve developed this initial draft, you can surround the core information included in it with more creative copy. For instance, you can take the heartfelt storytelling route by positioning your clients as people who had long envisioned themselves as homeowners and were finally able to make the leap from renting to owning with your help. Conversely, you could infuse some humor into your real estate case study: Write in a colloquial tone that reads as if you’re having a casual conversation with those reading your case study. For example, if a buyer client had some unusual preferences regarding what they wanted in their next home (e.g. a room dedicated to their pet dog, backyard space to add a putting green), make light of those requests in your case study.
Aside from the thematic elements of each case study, play around with the formatting for each. Arguably the most common layout for case studies is feature-style: Sharing a personal profile of clients, gradually revealing info about them and your work in assisting them, and ending the piece with closing thoughts on the transaction. You can also take a more step-by-step approach, like listing how you helped close a deal for a client in a certain number of steps, or simply noting the problem in one section (“My buyer clients wanted to buy a fixer-upper in the nicest neighborhood in [market name here]”) and then the solution (“Through careful market research, I found a bargain home for them”).
Meticulously edit your real estate agent case studies for flow, length, and SEO.
The editing process is just as important to nail down as the writing process. While you may spend more time gathering info and putting together your case studies, it’s the post-content creation period where you will fine-tune your work and make sure it’s easily scannable yet filled with plenty of interesting language and details.
Start by eliminating any “fluff” copy from your case study that isn’t necessary — in other words, sentences (or even entire paragraphs) that don’t really add much or anything to the crux of your story.
Then, focus on tightening up your copy. As Dr. Seuss put it, “The writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” Eliminate any words, phrases, and/or sentences that may confuse readers or simply don’t help further your point.
Length is the final focal point in the editing process. After cutting out copy deemed nonessential, turn your attention to your total word count. There isn’t a single length that is ideal for each case study — that really depends on the amount of work that went on for each particular client you worked with. However, keep in mind that your case studies should be short enough for readers to quickly gather the main points and learn all about the transaction in question, while also long enough to have an impact on your on-page search engine optimization (SEO). As with your real estate agent testimonials, blog posts, and landing pages, your case studies need to be optimized for organic search. Use long-tail phrases related to your local housing market that are highly searched and not overly competitive to earn the best chance of ranking for those terms in search results pages.
Bolster your case study copy with photos and videos featuring your clients.
Think of what your leads look for in representation. A common preference among many buyers and sellers scouring the digital marketplace for the right agent is to see visual proof of their work. Creating and publishing plenty of photos and videos of your listings and clients can go a long way in securing new business for you. For instance, this clip from Coldwell Banker Realtors Steve and Heather Ostrom serves as a premier visual real estate case study example that aptly incorporates testimonial feedback from a couple clients while also generally promoting their business’ core principles and mission: While you should document the actual buying and selling processes with your clients via note-taking, also document the period with lots of pictures and recordings. Snap shots during open houses you host for seller clients. Film clips of buyer clients signing a contract for their new residences. Hire a real estate videographer to chronicle move-in day for buyers you represented (with their permission, of course). However you prefer to document your work with clients, just be sure it can serve multiple purposes, like appearing in your case studies, webpages, email campaigns, social media accounts, and on YouTube, like the Ostroms clearly did with the above clip.
Promote your case studies through your real estate marketing channels.
Speaking of those external channels, once you’ve posted each case study, it’s time to maximize awareness of them by sharing them with all of your contacts. Develop a real estate drip campaign for middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel leads devoted to sharing one or more case studies so you can put the final touches on nurturing those prospects. Also, head to your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest, among other social networks, and schedule tweets, status updates, and posts sharing links to your case studies. If you want to take your real estate case studies a step further, develop webinars around them every once in a while so you can invite leads you think are close to selecting an agent to work with and tell them how you finalized deals for your clients. If they’re willing to participate, see if you can get those clients you’ve featured in written case studies to join your recorded session so your audience can hear praise right from the source. This is the kind of social proof that can give leads the right push toward choosing you over the competition.
Before you can write compelling case studies, you need to learn how to get clients in real estate — something you can accomplish by downloading our free beginner real estate agent’s guide, which covers everything you need to know to master marketing and sales.
How do you go about getting real estate reviews and testimonials? Do you use this feedback to write case studies? Share how you use social proof in your real estate marketing plan with us below.
Published on June 17, 2015
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.